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Top Left, Clockwise: The damaged prop gets the attention it needs in the Charleston Shipyard; Sunset over the Coos Bay Bar, a rugged and beutiful part of the Oregon Coast; View from the flybridge helm of the ST 47, pointing south to warm Californian waters.

and more like an express cruiser or other trawler-adjacent category of boat. The ride was easy with minimal hobby horsing. While there is a trendy movement in yacht design to eliminate the cabin helm and keep the single helm and nav station up on the flybridge, the ST 47 resists this. The main benefit of the single flybridge helm is that it provides even more entertaining space in the cabin. However, especially in an open flybridge model like the ST 47, having the ability to drive from within the cozy interior is still popular with boaters. The interior is plenty large, even with a helm station. “Keep an eye out for crab pots,” Captain Willett asked, and together we diligently scanned the waters ahead and dodged countless small, bright floats which look innocent enough to a layperson, but would mean wrapped props and worst-case scenarios to boat captains. We finally danced our way out of the crab pots, and as a few hours ticked by, we began to relax. A whale puff in the distance was taken as a good omen.

"I GOTTA CHECK THAT OUT." “Yep, might as well get as far south as we can. We’ll probably be waiting in Coos Bay for a few days, but we should still make the San Diego Boat Show debut.” We weren’t on the dock for more than 15 minutes before we were off. I stowed the fenders and dock lines as Captain Willett rocketed onto the Pacific, the Yaquina Bay Bridge in our wake. It was Coos Bay or bust. Even this early in the trip, I started to appreciate how easy it was to get from one side of the boat to the other, partly thanks to the huge, open salon space and wide, sheltered side decks. The fenders and lines stowed easily under the floor of the covered cockpit, along with most of the other more cumbersome items. A uniquely Oregon coast gray, a new crayon


color I’m workshopping, set in so it was hard to distinguish sea from sky. We were in the wild, gray yonder. We set in for the trip and I dutifully started taking notes on performance. Captain Willett’s favorite driving spot was clearly the flybridge, which was comfortable and provided great visibility. Since time was of the essence to make the Coos Bay slack tide across the bar, Captain Willett was going close to full throttle and the twin 425-horsepower Caterpillar inboard diesel engines yielded a speed of around 17 knots. What really made it a ride was the eight- to ten-foot following swells, and the ST 47 reached sustained bursts of speed of around 21 knots. With zippy performance like this, I felt less like I was on a trawler




Newport Beach, California-based Captain Jackson Willett helmed the Hero Leg of the Swift Pacific Adventure. A certified U.S. Sail & Powerboat Instructor with a United States Coast Guard 100 Ton Master License, Captain Willett is also the owner and founder of Newport Coast Maritime Academy, a powerboat school. With over 20 years of experience power cruising and sailing from the East Coast to Hawaii, he’s a consummate marine professional with stories to tell. You can learn more at


Thanks to the Pacific’s generous following seas and the ST 47’s sporty performance, we were making great time and we’d even had to slow a bit to time the slack tide bar crossing in Coos Bay correctly. Captain Willett and I kept up our vigil for crab pots and potential obstacles, but we finally got around to that proper introduction. “I run a powerboat school and charter company out of Newport Beach (California),” said Captain Willett. His was a sea salty life with charter companies on the East Coast, Hawaii, and ports in between. “I was living on my Grand Banks 36 in Newport Beach and taking people to the Channel Islands so much, I figured I might as well do it for a living.” His company, Newport Coast Maritime Academy, is a demanding but rewarding endeavor. This trip was his first chance to run down the West Coast and he jumped at the opportunity to add the notch to his belt. “I’ve been calling this the Hero Leg,” I said. He chuckled. “Sounds about right to me.” We were about seven nautical miles off the coast of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area when bits of debris started to muck up the previously clear ocean. I knew the mouth of the Umpqua River was somewhere nearby, one of the most beautiful rivers in the world in my opinion. We kept our eyes strained for anything troublesome. It was only a few more hours to the bar entrance. Surely, we had this transit

Profile for Northwest Yachting

Northwest Yachting July 2019  

The latest on power and sail boating in the Northwest: featuring a long-distance (and unexpected) journey on a Beneteau Swift 47; a look at...

Northwest Yachting July 2019  

The latest on power and sail boating in the Northwest: featuring a long-distance (and unexpected) journey on a Beneteau Swift 47; a look at...